- President Donald Trump claimed there was “no reason” for White House staffers to testify to Congress following the release of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation.
- Trump said any move to compel them to testify, such as a subpoena, would be “very partisan.”
- Former White House counsel Don McGahn was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee. He was a central figure in Mueller’s investigation and in the final report on the probe that was released last week.
- White House attorneys reportedly plan on notifying witnesses of the administration’s intent to assert executive privilege and fight the Committee’s subpoena.
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President Donald Trump claimed there was “no reason” for White House staffers to testify to Congress following the release of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, and suggested any move to compel them was motivated by political bias.
“There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan – obviously very partisan,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday.
Trump celebrated the special counsel’s inconclusive findings on the subject of collusion with Russia, following the release of the 448-page redacted report last week.
The special counsel found no evidence that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign conspired with the Kremlin to swing the election. However, it established that Trump had attempted, but failed, to impede the Russia probe.
Democratic lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee have since issued a subpoena for White House counsel Don McGahn, a central figure in the Russia investigation and Mueller’s report. The attorney, who spent roughly 30 hours being interviewed by the special counsel, painted an unflattering picture of Trump, including an instance where Trump ordering him to direct the Justice Department to fire Mueller.
“Mueller has to go,” McGahn recalled Trump saying during a phone call in June 2017, according to Mueller’s report.
White House attorneys plan on notifying witnesses of the administration’s intent to assert executive privilege and block the Judiciary Committee’s subpoena, according to two anonymous officials cited in The Post.
McGahn was “not eager to testify” and was conflicted about the situation, a person close to him reportedly said.
“He doesn’t want to be in contempt of Congress, nor does he want to be in contempt of his ethical obligations and legal obligations as a former White House official,” the source said in The Post.
Trump initially waived certain privileges by allowing McGahn to be interviewed by Mueller – even despite protests from the attorney. McGahn believed the interviews could expose Trump to legal liabilities, according to The New York Times.
Trump suggested that his willingness to allow aides to be scrutinised by the special counsel should preclude them from further congressional scrutiny.
“I allowed my lawyers and all the people to go and testify to Mueller – and you know how I feel about that whole group of people that did the Mueller report,” Trump said in The Post. “I was so transparent; they testified for so many hours. They have all of that information that’s been given.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler’s subpoena demands McGahn to publicly testify on May 21, and sets up the potential showdown between the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the White House.
Nadler said in a statement that despite Mueller’s redacted report, “substantial evidence” revealed that Trump “engaged in obstruction and other abuses.”
“It now falls to Congress to determine for itself the full scope of the misconduct and to decide what steps to take in the exercise of our duties of oversight, legislation and constitutional accountability,” he said.
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